Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The highs & lows of a 3,000-mile road trip June 10, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Traveling on Interstate 90 somewhere in upstate New York.

Traveling on Interstate 90 somewhere in upstate New York. This is one beautiful state.

MAKING A CROSS COUNTRY road trip isn’t easy. It’s especially grueling when you’re under a schedule with minimal time to stop except for gas, bathroom breaks, and to eat, sleep and pay tolls.

Although we spotted many signs directing us toward New York City, we did not go that way.

Although we spotted many signs directing us toward New York City, we did not go that way.

Despite the challenges, there’s a certain sense of adventure and accomplishment in completing a long-distance journey. It’s a great way to see the country. My husband and I traveled 3,029 miles on a late May road trip from Minnesota to Massachusetts and back. I’ve already taken you to our destinations of Somerville and Medford.

Ohio is a big state to traverse from west to east. Be ware of state troopers here. They were thick on the Interstate, the highest number we saw in any of the nine states we drove through.

Ohio is a big state to traverse from west to east. Be ware of state troopers here. They were thick on the Interstate, the highest number we saw in any of the nine states we drove through.

Now it’s time to take you other places.

Finally, after 2 1/2 days of travel, we reached Massachusetts.

Finally, after 2 1/2 days of travel, we reached Massachusetts.

But before I do that, here’s a summary of trip highs and lows:

Our room at the Super 8 Motel in Princeton, Illinois, where we met Carl, the desk clerk. See that picture of the Chicago skyline? Carl once worked in the second building from the right. We loved Carl.

Our room at the Super 8 Motel in Princeton, Illinois, where we met Carl, the desk clerk. See that picture of the Chicago skyline? Carl once worked in the second building from the right. We loved Carl. The quiet room overlooked a field and the John Deere dealership. Total cost: $66.81.

Highlights:

Road construction was expected. Everywhere.

Road construction was expected and endured. Everywhere.

Lowlights:

  •  Road construction.
  •  Toll booths.
  •  Too many dead deer along the Interstates, especially in Pennsylvania with New York coming in second.
  •  Hotels that allow smoking.
  •  A less than welcoming Illinois hotel clerk who refused to give us an AARP discount because the hotel “had met its quota for the night.” I’ve  never heard  of this before. We didn’t believe him and left. He had a bad overall attitude.
  •  Cleaning an apartment kitchen used by college students.
  •  Getting lost in a really bad part of Buffalo, New York, for 1 ½ hours.
  •  Crazy and dangerous drivers in Buffalo.
  •  Failing to see Niagra Falls once we reached the general falls area only to encounter road construction and no directions how to get to the American side of the falls.
  •  Morning rush hour in Hartford, Connecticut, on a rainy Monday.
  •  Nearly being hit head-on when a vehicle crossed the center line on a state highway in Iowa.
  •  Too many miles (600 driven one day) and not enough sleep.

FYI: Check back next week as I showcase specific places from our trip.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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26 Responses to “The highs & lows of a 3,000-mile road trip”

  1. I dislike the roads in Iowa too, everyone waves at ya, & that is hard to do while they are texting, reading the paper, eating a big mac, & spilling coffee in their lap all at the same time 😉

  2. I can say these type of road trips have their highs and lows – moving cross country via road trip last year from Nevada to Florida – I can now say “Yes, it does take 2 days to cross the State of Texas!” – ha! Think of the good memories for years to come, especially seeing your son graduate 🙂 Happy Weekend – Enjoy – ADVENTURE ON . . .

  3. Wow, nary a bad word about the infamous bad drivers of Massachusetts.. Thank you very much Audrey.

  4. Don Says:

    To me road trips are fun if you do not have a schedule to adhere to, but with places to be and people to see you couldn’t enjoy the road trip as much, I understand. Maybe you can do a road trip again sometime with no time lines to meet. Perhaps something to look forward to……………………..

    • Maybe. On the way home, we were able to travel at a bit slower pace allowing for minimal exploring. One of the problems is lack of vacation time. Although my husband has been with the same company for more than 30 years, he only gets 10 days of vacation annually.

  5. Don Says:

    Perhaps retirement will give you the time you need but alas there’s always that pesky financial situation. I am personally looking into retirement in the near future and have begun scoping out real estate options!

  6. Don Says:

    Small towns in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and the UP of Michigan. My wife and I have family in those areas. I have looked into some of those areas you have showcased in your blog and I believe it will be a tough decision to make! I do know one thing for sure it will be a small town! Cost of living is a major factor and we have found some reasonable numbers to work with on this. Wow utilities are so much lower than what we pay for in Alaska. In the middle of winter we have paid upwards of $600 per month for heating and we do not have a huge house! It is about 1700 square feet. Throw in all the other bills and the house costs us about 2,600 per month (payment, taxes, utilities, etc.). Alaska is not a retirement area!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Don Says:

    Family a big YES, and shorter winters! All the family we have here in Alaska has started moving out already!

  8. Sue Ready Says:

    Catch up time: I am behind on postings regarding your Tuft adventure. Your photo essay for each posting were engaging and informative. Your appreciation for people watching, old buildings and architecture I could totally relate to. The experiences found in traveling i hope you found outweigh the inconveniences. Traffic and parking are certainly top on everyone’s biggest annoyances. But to be able to experience the people, Caleb’s friends and landscape he is a part of are reassuring to a parent this is a world he is meant to be in and helps you better understand where he is coming from. if nothing else you have even a more appreciation for your rural SW Minnesota roots. .

  9. Hotly Spiced Says:

    There certainly have been some highs and lows! $60 lodgings is a great deal. Everything in Oz is so much more expensive. We are currently away for a long weekend and staying in a studio cabin in a caravan park – it’s $150/night! Hate that feeling of being ripped-off. That sure is a long road trip – I don’t know how I would have coped being in the car for all those miles. But like you say, it’s a great way to see your country xx

    • The $60/night is not the usual. A typical hotel room would be more in the $100-120 range. Your prices are always higher, so it seems to me.

      Being in the van for 3,029 miles was not difficult with so much to see.

  10. Jackie Says:

    Some good ups and downs for sure. We’ve had some bad experiences at hotels as well, Not fun! Where did you stay in the state park??? Did you camp?

  11. Great pictures. I can’t believe that you found a hotel for less than $70.00.


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